Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bittersweet Reality

Looks like a good schedule.

Looks like a good schedule.

When my older son was a high school senior, he had to wait until he graduated and then attended summer orientation at UTSA to officially enroll.

But Sam Houston State is unusual in that incoming freshmen can register for classes early, as long as they’ve met with an advisor.

So my younger son was able to lock in his SHSU schedule for the fall yesterday afternoon. It definitely alleviates the pressure of scrambling for classes this summer.

But it also brings the empty-nest reality front and center for me. As always, I’m thrilled for my son that he continues to move forward with his life. Still, I can’t help but wish for time to stop rushing by so fast!

Metal Basket Mania

This close putt is easy for Mike.

This putt is easy for Mike.

Usually when it comes to action photography, I believe that close is best.

Randall hopes to make a par.

Randall hopes to make a par.

But last Tuesday’s Southwest Handicap Mini was at a “new” course, the First Colony Aquatic Center. The quote marks are necessary, because the disc golfers used to play tournaments there until the city decided to add some amenities for its residents. That addition meant a subtraction of certain baskets and a wait of several years until the course was slightly redesigned, including the installation of some new metal.

My younger son zips in a birdie putt.

My younger son zips in a birdie putt.

Now the Aquatic Center is back in the weekly rotation. I hadn’t shot there for a couple years, but I did remember that the baskets tend to be close to one another. So I opted for my beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens, which is equally adapt at delivering those close pics as well as ones that tell more of the disc golf story.

Nick sinks this.

Nick sinks this.

As much as the sport is about the drive and the upshot, a lot of the drama (and, unfortunately, often the trauma) is all about the chains. My Nikon 105mm lens usually is better at focusing on just the player, which is why it stayed home.

Daniel and his shadow putt.

Daniel and his shadow putt.

But this time my photography was all about the baskets.

Can you see the basket way off in the distance? Watch out for the lake!

Can you see the basket off in the distance on the left? Watch out for the lake!

Even the ones that were far away!

One-Word Wednesday

The moon was slightly golden last night.

The moon looked lovely last night.

Full!

Beauty Next Door

One of many colors

The purple really stands out.

Those of us who lack a green thumb really only need one thing:

Yellow still filling out

Yellow is still filling in.

To live next door to someone who does!

Fortunately for me, my neighbor Tami loves nurturing her flowers. She planted a bunch of lantanas in many colors close to our house.

Red definitely is a power color.

Love these shades of red.

Of course, Tami didn’t plant them for me—she just likes her front yard to be colorful and blooming.

A lovely mix

A gorgeous mix

And I’m lucky she does!

March Madness or Gladness?

It’s that time of year!

It’s that time of year!

What a wonderful, long weekend of NCAA basketball upsets we just had! March Madness once again lives up to its name.

With the Mister and our younger son out of town at a disc golf tournament, I didn’t have to share the big-screen Samsung with anyone. Which meant I could work the remote (switching among all four TV stations the games were on) and, especially, the mute button (hate those AT&T commercials with suit guy and the little kids!) as much as I pleased.

It was sheer bliss!

Well, except when my alma mater Illinois failed to knock off Miami last night. Not that I had the Illini winning in my bracket, but I would’ve loved if they had busted it.

Hate all those green X’s.

Hate all those green X’s.

Speaking of brackets, here’s mine so far. Woeful prognostication! Despite that, though, I’m looking very good in the competition against the Mister, the kid, and eight others, mostly because I’m the only one with my Final Four still playing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’ll live to see Atlanta. But I remain hopeful.

Meanwhile, the Mister is practically out of the competition, because he went with his heart instead of his head and picked Gonzaga to win the title. I didn’t think they’d even make the Final Four.

The real excitement for the three of us, though, is how well Florida Gulf Coast is playing. A relatively new school, this no-name has won two games and is the first 15th seed to make the Sweet 16! Why do we care?

We’ve dropped a few bucks in a random tournament squares pool. Three of our teams—Virginia Commonwealth, Creighton, and South Dakota State—have returned to their studies. But our fourth team is FGCU! I had never heard of them and figured that VCU might be our best shot. But so far FGCU is giving us points.

Maybe we’ll break even for a change!

A Sea of Bluish Purple

Bluebonnets always make me smile.

Bluebonnets always make me smile.

One of the first things I did when I returned from my short Chicago trip was to drive to the master-planned community next to mine. My goal? See how much the bluebonnets had grown, as well as to check if any other wildflowers were adding to the color scheme.

These might be the most-photogenic flowers ever.

These might be the most-photogenic flowers ever.

Remember the few bluish-purple beauties that braved the end of winter last month?

Now they’re popping out all over where I do my long runs and walks! It’s really breathtaking.

There's a boy-girl theme going on here.

There’s a blue-pink theme going on here.

As for the other wildflowers, well, so far they’re slackers. I mainly noticed pretty pink evening primrose intermingling with the bluebonnets here and there.

A welcome dash of red

A welcome dash of red

The red phlox stood out, but there were too few to make much of a difference.

Looks like the Indian Blanket will have company.

Looks like the Indian Blanket will have company.

Meanwhile, that one, lonely Indian Blanket not only is still hanging in there, but it has some friends nearby that are about to bloom.

Hopefully that sea of bluish purple is about to experience some colorful changes!

Winter’s Last Gasp . . . But Not Really

My younger son hopes his jump putt hits the chains.

My younger son hopes his jump putt hits the chains.

Yesterday was the first day of spring. Here in the Houston area, all that means is that March 20th’s weather was virtually the same as on March 19th—beautiful.

And not cold at all, thank goodness!

Hiral shows his serious putting side.

Hiral shows his serious putting side.

The last day of what passes for winter here found me at Imperial Park at our weekly Southwest Handicap Mini series. This is the best time to play disc golf there, because the foliage is beaten down and thinned out. Discs don’t get lost as often as they do during the summer when the park regains its lushness and is more challenging.

Purple power!

Purple power!

Of course, I’m drawn to Imperial as much for the nature as watching the kid play. As I approached hole seven, my eye immediately was drawn to bright batches of phlox. I’ve seen that wildflower here before but never in such abundance.

Maybe this is foxglove?

Another purple park inhabitant

My Nikon 105mm macro lens captured the few flora that were ready for prime time this early. We should see plenty more, though, in a month or so when the series returns to the ever-blooming park.

A wee spider peeks out from his lantana perch.

A wee spider peeks out from his lantana perch.

Wonder if this guy will stick around?

One-Word Wednesday

My older son smiles before driving back to UTSA last Sunday as spring break ends.

My older son smiles before driving back to UTSA last Sunday as spring break ends.

Bye!

A Different Camera Documents My Trip

The view from above on the way to Chicago.

The view from above on the way to Chicago.

When I plan one of my infrequent trips, I usually spend a lot of time assessing what’s most important to me: My photographic needs. I’m rarely without a camera in addition to the one on my iPhone.

On previous journeys to Chicago I’ve lugged either my Nikon D300 or D700 along with my Nikon 50mm lens (occasionally I’ll tote the Nikon 105mm macro, too).

A dripping tree outside my mom’s condo’s window

A dripping tree outside my mom’s condo’s window

But this time I wanted to go with a lightweight kit, because Chicago in winter can be . . . dare I say it? . . . ugly. Remember yesterday’s photo of the dirty snow? There’s no need to snap multiple pics of that with your best equipment.

So I opted for my newest camera, the Nikon 1 V1, which is mirrorless (virtually noiseless). Plus you can change lenses, and it’s small and light. The best part?

It was free! I “bought” it from Amazon with my Discover Card points. As you know, free is my favorite price!

The crazy lights in O'Hare

The crazy lights at O’Hare

As it turned out, I was glad I chose the V1 as my photo-traveling companion. Not only did it do a decent job with the subject matter (I only snapped about 45 pics), but I spent most of my four days moaning and groaning (when I wasn’t living on Advil), because I tripped over a curb (yes, once again!) outside of Bush Intercontinental Airport and fell, bruising my ribs.

Fluffy clouds populate the sky on the way home.

Fluffy clouds populate the sky on the way home.

I’m not sure what worried me more: The thought of carrying my heavier photo equipment while I was in pain or the possibility that I might have broken one of my beloved digital SLRs and/or lenses when I went splat on the hard concrete.

Now that really would have been cause for moaning and groaning!

Returning to What Passes as Normal

That’s much better!

That’s much better!

When I last left all of you, I was kvetching about the bone-chilling conditions in Chicago.

I returned home yesterday from my short visit to my hometown and was greeted by a glorious final day of spring break. Of course, we know that before long I’ll be kvetching about how flippin’ hot it is here in Houston. But let’s not go there right now.

I enjoyed a splendid time in the windy city, where I was reminded of what I miss and don’t miss about my kind of town.

Just so ugly!

Just so ugly!

Number one with a bullet on that don’t-miss list? Dirty snow! As well as constant temperatures at or below 32 degrees. No, thank you!

This iPhone 5 photo does NOT do this magnificent work of art justice.

This iPhone 5 photo does NOT do this gastronomical work of art justice.

Can you tell what I miss second-most about Chicago? Yep, it’s the great food. During my four days there I managed to consume a Portillo’s hot dog, Lou Malnati’s deep-dish pizza, half a corned beef sandwich on rye, and ribs at L Woods. So delicious!

My mom (right) and her twin sister sandwich the birthday girl.

My mom (right) and her twin sister sandwich the birthday girl.

Of course, what I miss most about Chicago is family. So it was wonderful being able to spend quality time with my mom as well as her twin sister, who also stayed with her. It also was great sharing dinner with my brother (the hot-shot Chicago lawyer) and his family at L Woods.

The marquee event of the weekend, though, was helping my mom’s younger sister celebrate her 70th birthday last Saturday night. Believe me, this gal looks terrific! And she’s as beautiful inside as she is outside. I also got to spend more time with my little bro as well as my cousins, who I don’t get to see often enough.

All in all, it was well worth braving the cold; I’m really glad I visited. And I’m looking forward to making another trip north this year . . . probably in September.

When the weather should be ideal!